Glenn Greenwald was on “The Dylan Ratigan Show” at MSNBC discussing the Obama Administration’s extension of the previous administration’s extrajudicial assassination program to include citizens of the U.S. (h/t: Scott Horton – 3:28):
The Obama Administration has asserted the privilege to assassinate American citizens who the government believes to have joined anti-American organizations it labels as ‘terrorist groups’. The number of these Americans are in the dozens, the president’s advisor at the Department of Homeland Security said last week in an interview with The Washington Times.
“There are, in my mind, dozens of U.S. persons who are in different parts of the world, and they are very concerning to us,” John Brennan, deputy national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism, said in the interview. Eli Lake, who reported the interview, added:
The remarks came in response to questions about procedures used by the president to order lethal strikes on U.S. citizens who have joined al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.
On Feb. 3, Dennis C. Blair, then director of national intelligence, said in congressional testimony that special permission must first be obtained by military or intelligence forces before what he termed “direct action” strikes against American citizens.
The Administration granted “special permission” in April—to assassinate Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemen-based cleric from New Mexico.
“The reasons for Awlaki’s impending assassination are vague, to say the least,” Jason Ditz wrote in April at AntiWar News.” Though officials have repeatedly accused Awlaki of being ‘in al-Qa’ida,’ he is not currently accused of any crimes and the only specific accusation against him is that he has criticized U.S. foreign policy, and that this has made it easier for al-Qa’ida to recruit.”
Mr. Lake’s report continued:
The main weapon in recent C.I.A. and U.S. military counterterrorism operations has been attacks with missile-equipped unmanned aerial vehicles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The administration has said it has killed dozens or perhaps scores of terrorists with these strikes over the past several years.
That practice was criticized in a report earlier this month authored by Philip Alston, the independent U.N. investigator on extrajudicial killings, who said the practice may violate international humanitarian law.
The American Civil Liberties Union in a letter to Mr. Obama on April 28 warned that the current program to kill terrorists in foreign countries would create a precedent for other countries to kill suspected terrorists all over the world.
The American-born cleric and U.S. citizen who now resides in Yemen is thought to be high on the list of those targeted for killing by the United States.
Mr. Brennan would not comment on the details of lethal operations or the procedure for targeting Americans.
“If a person is a U.S. citizen, and he is on the battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq trying to attack our troops, he will face the full brunt of the U.S. military response,” Mr. Brennan said. “If an American person or citizen is in a Yemen or in a Pakistan or in Somalia or another place, and they are trying to carry out attacks against U.S. interests, they also will face the full brunt of a U.S. response. And it can take many forms.”
Mr. Brennan added, “To me, terrorists should not be able to hide behind their passports and their citizenship, and that includes U.S. citizens, whether they are overseas or whether they are here in the United States. What we need to do is to apply the appropriate tool and the appropriate response.”
Glenn Greenwald at Salon noted the red herring used by Mr. Brennan to manufacture consent for this draconian, authoritarian policy of the worst kind [italics his]:
That theory—the whole world is a battlefield, even the U.S.—was the core premise that spawned 8 years of Bush/Cheney radicalism, and it has been adopted in full by the Obama Administration (indeed, it was that “whole-world-is-a-battlefield” theory which Elena Kagan explicitly endorsed during her confirmation hearing for Solicitor General).
Mr. Lake noted at the end of his article:
Mr. Brennan toward the end of the interview acknowledged that, despite some differences, there is considerable continuity between the counterterrorism policies of President Bush and President Obama.
Mr. Greenwald added that the greatest extension of the Bush Administration to the current regime is the “due-process-free policy” of ‘criminal justice’—a policy that was widely criticized by the former administration for its execution of warrantless domestic surveillance on American citizens. He added how this is being exported to Afghanistan:
There, the U.S. last year compiled a “hit list” of 50 Afghan citizens whose assassination it authorized on the alleged ground (never charged or convicted) that they were drug “kingpins” or funding the Talbian [sic].
Afghan officials resisted this policy. To which, Mr. Greenwald wrote:
In other words, Afghans—the people we’re occupying in order to teach about Freedom and Democracy—are far more protective of due process and the rule of law for their own citizens than Americans are who meekly submit to Obama’s identical policy of assassination for their fellow citizens. It might make more sense for Afghanistan to invade and occupy the U.S. in order to spread the rule of law and constitutional values here.
What makes all this most remarkable is the level of screeching protests Democrats engaged in when Bush merely wanted to eavesdrop on and detain Americans without any judicial oversight or due process. Remember all that? Click here and here for a quick refresher. Yet here is Barack Obama doing far worse to them than that without any due process or judicial oversight—he’s targeting them for assassination—and there is barely a peep of protest from the same Party that spent years depicting “mere” warrantless eavesdropping and due-process-free detention to be the acts of a savage, lawless tyrant.
In all honesty, the ‘Team America’ bunch ought to be up in arms about this as well. If American exceptionalism is a valid concept, wouldn’t Americans have the greatest right to due process? Isn’t due process something inherently ‘American’ to those idiots? Or do they now have to admit that the concept of American exceptionalism is a silly superstition and that due process is a vital construct to defending the most fundamental rights of man—no matter what their passport says on the cover?
When we can accept that rights belong to humans and are not bestowed by geographical dirt, the “secret war” of assassination run amok in 75 countries by the Obama Administration—compared to 60 at the beginning of 2009 left active by his predecessor—in Yemen, Somalia, Philippines, Colombia and elsewhere in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, are absolutely wrong and ought not be tolerated by any person of any sort of virtue.